Responding to Tragedy

-reposted with permission from Mike and Cara Tyler‘s missionary newsletter.

I wanted to send a nice Christmas greeting this month, but after Monday night, I feel the need to send a different message. I usually share a pleasant story that illustrates what’s happening in our ministry, but tonight I had to take a different route. I’m sure you’ve heard about the terror attack in Berlin. A man killed a Polish truck driver, stole his 18-wheeler, and used it to plow into a crowded outdoor Christmas market; killing and injuring many.

We heard the news at about 9pm last night – within an hour of when it happened. Of course we were shocked and disgusted, like many of you were. And like many, I felt the need to pray for the people of Berlin—for the victims, for their families and friends, for the people who are now afraid to go out and enjoy public places across Europe. But as much as I weep for these victims, I’m also reminded of another victim many aren’t thinking about—he was driving that truck.

(I shared a similar statement at a table of prayerful Christians the day after 9/11/2001, and to put it mildly, not everyone was excited to join me in that prayer. I understand if you’re feeling the same way now. But I ask you to stick with me for a minute.)

When I think about that driver I ask a few questions:

-Is he deranged? (Possibly.)

-Was he driven by hate? (I tend to make assumptions, but I don’t really know.)

-Was he deceived? …Definitely. While I can’t really answer the first two questions, the third is undeniable.

This sad scenario (which has been repeated so many times this year) didn’t start when he got behind the wheel of that truck. It started when someone began feeding this man lies about God.

Those lies formed a twisted root system that dug into the crack and crevices of this man’s soul, leading him to make twisted conclusions about the nature of the world and the way he should react towards it. The eventual fruit of those lies was the bloodshed that was all over the news last night.

Yet again, a man was fed a distorted picture of God, and in reaction to that portrayal, he attempted to earn his way into God’s favor, and into Heaven by doing what he was told to do. This gut-wrenching story has played out with teenagers who have strapped explosives to their chests, with men in trucks, with airplane hijackers, etc. In another story that was just a blip on the local news, here in southwest Germany a 12-year-old boy was caught after planting a faulty nail-packed pipe bomb (which thankfully didn’t explode) at his local Christmas market just last week. The tragedy that took place in Berlin, is sadly not an isolated one.

I’m writing this, not to depress you, or scare you into staying at home (my family went to another famous Christmas market today—a day trip we had planned weeks before the tragedy in Berlin), but to urge you to think about the scenario, to pray beyond the obvious, and to act in ways that will help stop this evil.

You see, the only way to stop the spread of lies is by sharing the truth. We can balk at the state of their confusion, or we can humbly admit (together with the Apostle Paul) that, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:3-6)

The solution to this crisis is to spread the gospel. The gospel makes the path to Heaven clear. The gospel declares the source of true righteousness. The gospel brings light into darkness. The gospel breaks down lies. The gospel infuses love where hatred used to rule. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope for this world.

So pray with me for all of the victims. Pray for the 10-year-olds in Syria or Pakistan (or Germany or wherever) who are being indoctrinated with lies. Pray against the works of “the god of this age [who] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel.” (2 Cor 4:4) And pray for Christians to step into the lives of these vulnerable individuals, to share the message of the gospel with them, and free them from the lies they have been living under.

Lastly, please pray with me that this tragedy would inspire all of us who follow Jesus to be focused on sharing the truth of the gospel in this Christmas season.

If you’ll allow me to make a radical theme shift, in closing, my family and I do want to wish you a wonderful, gospel-love infused celebration of Christ at the close of this year, and for the start of the next. In spite of the tragedies that have come, and are yet to come, Jesus is a great reason for us to be thankful, and to celebrate.

Blessings in Christ,
The Tyler Family

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One Response to “Responding to Tragedy”

  1. Phyllis Park says:

    This is my heart’s cry as well. I understand what you said and say, amen. While others rejoiced when Osama bin Laden was killed, I cried. My heart aches for the Muslim people who have and are being deceived. Tears are falling as I write this. I join you in prayer for their freedom from this religion and they find the true relationship with God that we are so blessed to have.

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